Tampa Bay Lightning will not trade Steven Stamkos at the deadline

Steven Stamkos will finish out his 2015-16 season as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Spor

It’s official. Steven Stamkos will not be the biggest piece for teams to add at the trade deadline.

Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman released the following statement, and his deadline plans became significantly more clear for his 26-year-old franchise center.

“As February 29th approaches, I am stating today that Steven Stamkos will not be traded before the NHL’s trade deadline. I have said repeatedly that it is our hope to reach an agreement with Steven on a new contract at some point, and with 27 games remaining in the season, our entire organization, Steven included, wants to focus on making the playoffs. I will keep the negotiating process strictly between the involved parties and have no further comment on the state of those negotiations.”

Stamkos will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He’s projected to get a deal that will pay him at least $10 million per year

Contract negotiations between Stamkos and the Lightning have been a bit quiet as the season rolls along. Stamkos has stated numerous times he is just focusing on his team, and that more information will become clear with each growing day.

But Yzerman’s statement is significant for numerous reasons. It shows that Yzerman is not willing to give up on any sort of contract negotiation with Stamkos, and it may even suggest that the two sides are relatively close to a new deal. 

Stamkos would have fetched an extremely large return at the trade deadline, but Yzerman has chosen to instead keep his franchise player as the Lightning battle for a playoff spot. 

If contract negotiations with Stamkos grow stale, and he hits free agency on July 1, the Lightning missed out on a huge opportunity to bring in any sort of return on Stamkos. 

Would Yzerman have been willing to risk missing out on any sort of return on Stamkos if he didn’t believe he would re-sign in Tampa Bay?

Tommy Chalk writes about the NHL for FOX Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @Tommy_Chalk